There is a saying that one of my friends has : “good time manager”. The inference is that the person is happy to be involved in things when times are good or the customer is happy, but goes missing when there is a tough discussion to be had or call to make.
Warren Buffet put it succinctly “When a management team with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.”
Essentially, I believe he is saying that more often than not, the underlying category issues are more directly related to the success of a business than the skill or talent of the management team. I suppose reversing this, you could suggest that sometimes talented people can be under-appreciated due to the category issues they are working with.
It is easy to get the ball when you are playing in a great team. I have a theory that even I could have kicked a 100 goals playing at full forward when the Eagles had their first peak in the early ’90s. I am not suggesting that Peter Sumich was a dud, by any measure – but Tony Lockett kicked swags of goals regardless of where the team he was playing for was on the ladder.
Gary Ablett continues to impress me at Gold Coast – he doesn’t have anywhere near the support, yet still succeeds. Same with Juddy at Carlton when he first arrived…
The same applies to business. It is easy to be an inspirational and motivating leader in a business which is making money. Doing the same in a business which is under performing consistently is a much bigger challenge, where many are found wanting. Tough times create great leaders. Remember, Winston Churchill took on the Prime Ministership after the start of WW2 when Chamberlain resigned. Churchill did not shy away from the situation – he met the challenges head on. I can’t imagine Churchill not wanting to talk to a customer about service levels…
It is a rare leader who can change the course of a business. Taking personal responsibility for success is a good first step…
And just for fun, here is one of my favourite Churchill quotes – a back and forth with Lady Astor, another MP. I aspire to such quick and decisive wit!
Lady Astor: “If you were my husband, I’d poison your tea.”
Churchill: “Madam, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.”